Browsing by Subject "arkeologia"

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  • Mannermaa, Kristiina (Helsingin yliopisto, 2008)
    The prominent roles of birds, often mentioned in historical sources, are not well reflected in archaeological research. Absence or scarcity of bird bones in archaeological assemblages has been often seen as indication of a minor role of birds in the prehistoric economy or ideology, or explained by taphonomic loss. Few studies exist where birds form the basis for extensive archaeological interpretation. In this doctoral dissertation bird bone material from various Stone Age sites in the Baltic Sea region is investigated. The study period is approximately 7000-3400 BP, comprising mainly Neolithic cultures. The settlement material comes from Finland, Åland, Gotland, Saaremaa and Hiiumaa. Osteological materials are used for studying the economic and cultural importance of birds, fowling methods and principal fowling seasons. The bones were identified and earlier identifications partially checked with help of a reference material of modern skeletons. Fracture analysis was used in order to study the deposition history of bones at Ajvide settlement site. Birds in burials at two large cemeteries, Ajvide on Gotland and Zvejnieki in northern Latvia were investigated in order to study the roles of birds in burial practices. My study reveals that the economic importance of birds is at least seasonally often more prominent than usually thought, and varies greatly in different areas. Fowling has been most important in coastal areas, and especially during the breeding season. Waterbirds and grouse species were generally the most important groups in Finnish Stone Age economy. The identified species composition shows much resemblance to contemporary hunting with species such as the mallard and capercaillie commonly found. Burial materials and additional archaeological evidence from Gotland, Latvia and some other parts of northern Europe indicate that birds –e.g., jay, whooper swan, ducks – have been socially and ideologically important for the studied groups (indicating a place in the belief system, e.g. clan totemism). The burial finds indicate that some common ideas about waterbirds (perhaps as messengers or spirit helpers) might have existed in the northern European Stone Age.
  • Lahelma, Antti (Suomen Muinaismuistoyhdistys r.y, 2008)
    Approximately 125 prehistoric rock paintings have been found in the modern territory of Finland. The paintings were done with red ochre and are almost without exception located on steep lakeshore cliffs associated with ancient water routes. Most of the sites are found in the central and eastern parts of the country, especially on the shores of Lakes Päijänne and Saimaa. Using shore displacement chronology, the art has been dated to ca. 5000 – 1500 BC. It was thus created mainly during the Stone Age and can be associated with the so-called ‘Comb Ware’ cultures of the Subneolithic period. The range of motifs is rather limited, consisting mainly of schematic depictions of stick-figure humans, elks, boats, handprints and geometric signs. Few paintings include any evidence of narrative scenes, making their interpretation a rather difficult task. In Finnish archaeological literature, the paintings have traditionally been associated with ’sympathetic’ hunting magic, or the belief that the ritual shooting of the painted animals would increase hunting luck. Some writers have also suggested totemistic and shamanistic readings of the art. This dissertation is a critical review of the interpretations offered of Finnish rock art and an exploration of the potentials of archaeological and ethnographic research in increasing our knowledge of its meaning. Methods used include ’formal’ approaches such as archaeological excavation, landscape analysis and the application of neuropsychological research to the study of rock art, as well as ethnographically ’informed’ approaches that make use of Saami and Baltic Finnish ethnohistorical sources in interpretation. In conclusion, it is argued that although North European hunter-gatherer rock art is often thought to lie beyond the reach of ‘informed’ knowledge, the exceptional continuity of prehistoric settlement in Finland validates the informed approach in the interpretation of Finnish rock paintings. The art can be confidently associated with shamanism of the kind still practiced by the Saami of Northern Fennoscandia in the historical period. Evidence of similar shamanistic practices, concepts and cosmology are also found in traditional Finnish-Karelian epic poetry. Previous readings of the art based on ‘hunting magic’ and totemism are rejected. Most of the paintings appear to depict experiences of falling into a trance, of shamanic metamorphosis and trance journeys, and of ‘spirit helper’ beings comparable to those employed by the Saami shaman (noaidi). As demonstrated by the results of an excavation at the rock painting of Valkeisaari, the painted cliffs themselves find a close parallel in the Saami cult of the 'sieidi', or sacred cliffs and boulders worshipped as expressing a supernatural power. Like the Saami, the prehistoric inhabitants of the Finnish Lake Region seem to have believed that certain cliffs were ’alive’ and inhabited by the spirit helpers of the shaman. The rock paintings can thus be associated with shamanic vision quests, and the making of ‘art’ with an effort to socialize the other members of the community, especially the ritual specialists, with trance visions. However, the paintings were not merely to be looked at. The red ochre handprints pressed on images of elks, as well as the fact that many paintings appear ’smeared’, indicate that they were also to be touched – perhaps in order to tap into the supernatural potency inherent in the cliff and in the paintings of spirit animals.
  • Manninen, Mikael A (Helsingin yliopisto, 2014)
    This dissertation focuses on Late Mesolithic (ca. 8450 6850 cal BP) lithic technological changes in the northernmost parts of Finland, Norway, and Sweden and on the relationship between these changes and the 8.2 ka climate event that was caused by a disruption in the North Atlantic Thermohaline circulation. The study uses a framework derived from Darwinian evolutionary theory and acknowledges the effects of both environmental constraints and socially transmitted information, i.e., culture, in the way lithic technology was organised in the studied region. The study discusses whether climatic cooling and its effects on the biotic environment could explain the way lithic technology and settlement patterns were reorganised during the Late Mesolithic. The dissertation takes an organisational approach to the study of past cultural change and seeks to understand changes in prehistoric material culture by studying lithic technology and settlement configuration using lithic technological, statistical, and spatial analyses. The results suggest that Late Mesolithic coastal communities were affected by a marked decrease in marine productivity that resulted from the cooling caused by the 8.2 ka event and a subsequent cold episode at ca. 7700 cal BP. It is concluded that the technological changes that occurred during the marine cooling were a result of developments that led to increased use of terrestrial resources and an accompanying long-distance coast/inland residential mobility pattern. The study contributes to a wider field of research into past climate change as a factor in prehistoric ecological, cultural, and behavioural change and provides reference material for studies on the impacts of future climate change on human communities. The results suggest that in northernmost Fennoscandia, the marine ecosystem is particularly sensitive to disturbances in the North Atlantic oceanographic system. In addition, the study provides new knowledge concerning the relationships between raw material availability, lithic technology, and culture. This new knowledge is widely applicable in research on the way lithic technology was organised in relation to other behavioural and organisational dimensions in past human adaptations.
  • Tallavaara, Miikka (Helsingin yliopisto, 2015)
    Knowledge of prehistoric human population dynamics and its drivers is important for the understanding of cultural and biological evolution. Working within the human ecological framework, this study aims to contribute to that knowledge, by reconstructing hunter-gatherer population dynamics in Europe 30,000 4000 years ago and by exploring the role of climate change in population size fluctuations. Archaeological reconstructions of population dynamics in Pleistocene Europe and Holocene Finland are based on spatio-temporal distributions of archaeological radiocarbon dates, which are taken as a proxy of human activity in time and place. The reliability and validity of the population history reconstructions are evaluated by studying potentially biasing effects of research history, taphonomic loss of archaeological material, and radiocarbon calibration. In addition to making use of these archaeological methods, this study aims to develop and evaluate systematic means to use ethnographic data and palaeoclimate model simulations to reconstruct prehistoric hunter-gatherer population dynamics. This climate envelope modelling approach is used to simulate changes in population size and range in Europe between 30,000 and 13,000 years ago, and also to a lesser extent in Holocene Finland. The results suggest that archaeological reconstructions based on the distribution of radiocarbon dates are not determined or strongly affected by biases related to research history. Instead, the reconstructions appear to reflect a true demographic signal from the past. However, radiocarbon calibration introduces high-frequency variation in the reconstructions, which has to be taken into account before any demographic interpretations are made. Due to this non-demographic variation, the method may not be able to reliably detect short-term variation in past population size and it is thus currently better suited to tracking long-term trends in population history. The taphonomic loss of archaeological material can potentially have a strong impact on the distribution of archaeological radiocarbon dates, but the current methods of taphonomic correction may not sufficiently take into account the geographical variability in taphonomic factors. In the future, it is therefore important to further develop taphonomic correction methods. The ability of the climate envelope model simulation of human population to replicate archaeological patterns indicates that this novel approach is suitable for studying long-term hunter-gatherer population dynamics. The method allows not only the exploration of relative changes in population size, but also the estimation of absolute population density and size. It may also be able to detect potential inadequacies in the geographical distribution of archaeological data. In the Finnish data, the correlation between the archaeological population size reconstruction and palaeoclimatic data suggests that the climate was an important driver of long-term hunter-gatherer population dynamics, and that population appears to have changed in equilibrium with climate. The impact of the climate on human population was mostly indirect, mediated by its impacts on environmental production and consequently on food availability. The important role of climate is also supported by the correspondence between archaeological population reconstruction and the climate envelope model simulation of past human population size, which assumes long-term population dynamics to be in equilibrium with the climate. This correspondence also suggests that the impact of the climate on terrestrially adapted hunter-gatherer population dynamics has remained relatively constant from the Late Pleistocene to the present.
  • Viitanen, Eeva-Maria (Helsingin yliopisto, 2010)
    The aim of this study is to examine the relationship of the Roman villa to its environment. The villa was an important feature of the countryside intended both for agricultural production and for leisure. Manuals of Roman agriculture give instructions on how to select a location for an estate. The ideal location was a moderate slope facing east or south in a healthy area and good neighborhood, near good water resources and fertile soils. A road or a navigable river or the sea was needed for transportation of produce. A market for selling the produce, a town or a village, should have been nearby. The research area is the surroundings of the city of Rome, a key area for the development of the villa. The materials used consist of archaeological settlement sites, literary and epigraphical evidence as well as environmental data. The sites include all settlement sites from the 7th century BC to 5th century AD to examine changes in the tradition of site selection. Geographical Information Systems were used to analyze the data. Six aspects of location were examined: geology, soils, water resources, terrain, visibility/viewability and relationship to roads and habitation centers. Geology was important for finding building materials and the large villas from the 2nd century BC onwards are close to sources of building stones. Fertile soils were sought even in the period of the densest settlement. The area is rich in water, both rainfall and groundwater, and finding a water supply was fairly easy. A certain kind of terrain was sought over very long periods: a small spur or ridge shoulder facing preferably south with an open area in front of the site. The most popular villa resorts are located on the slopes visible from almost the entire Roman region. A visible villa served the social and political aspirations of the owner, whereas being in the villa created a sense of privacy. The area has a very dense road network ensuring good connectivity from almost anywhere in the region. The best visibility/viewability, dense settlement and most burials by roads coincide, creating a good neighborhood. The locations featuring the most qualities cover nearly a quarter of the area and more than half of the settlement sites are located in them. The ideal location was based on centuries of practical experience and rationalized by the literary tradition.
  • Saunaluoma, Sanna (Helsingin yliopisto, 2013)
    Amazonian earthworks have a variety of forms and sizes, and are found in different geographical and ecological locations, indicating separate time periods, distinct cultural affiliations, and diverse functions. Because research on pre-Columbian earthworks has only recently begun, a number of basic questions concerning the function and chronology of these structures, and the ethno-cultural and socio-political relationships of the societies who created them still remain unanswered. The main aim of this dissertation, consisting of four peer-reviewed articles and a synthesis paper, is to build new knowledge and expand on the existing, but still noticeably sparse data on the region's pre-Columbian earthworking cultures. It proposes a hypothesis of the existence of relatively early sedentary interfluvial populations with rather organized and peculiar societal and ideological systems in the southwestern Amazon. This suggestion challenges the conventional view of ancient Amazonian peoples being non-sedentary, with an egalitarian social organization and an inability to alter and manage the environment in which they lived. This dissertation presents and discusses the results of archaeological fieldwork undertaken at earthwork sites in two neighboring frontier regions in the southwestern Amazon: the region of Riberalta in Bolivia and the eastern state of Acre in Brasil. The Bolivian sites are interpreted as permanent settlements, while the Acrean earthworks were constructed principally for ceremonial purposes. The earthworks documented in the Riberalta region are structurally simpler than the ones studied in Acre and are found in slightly different locations, e.g., on high river bluffs or inland only a few kilometers from the main rivers. In Acre, the sites are located on high interfluvial plateaus near minor watercourses. The earthwork building practice prevailed in the Riberalta region from around 200 B.C. until the period of European contact, whereas the geometric earthwork tradition began earlier in Acre, around 1200 B.C., if not before. By the tenth century A.D., the regional confederation that created the geometric enclosures was already disintegrating. Even so, some sites apparently remained in use until the fourteenth century A.D. Chronologically and culturally, these earthworking peoples were formative-stage societies demonstrating emerging sedentism and evolving socio-organizational structures, and in Acre in particular, a society united by a highly developed ideological system materialized in the geometric enclosure architecture.
  • Mökkönen, Teemu (Helsingin yliopisto, 2011)
    Housepits have a remarkably short research history as compared to Fennoscandian archaeological research on the Stone Age in general. The current understanding of the numbers and the distribution of Stone Age housepits in the Nordic countries has, for the most part, been shaped by archaeological studies carried out over the last twenty to thirty years. The main subjects of this research are Neolithic housepits, which are archaeological remains of semi-subterranean pithouses. This dissertation consists of five peer-reviewed articles and a synthesis paper. The articles deal with the development of housepits as seen in the data gathered from Finland (the Lake Saimaa area and south-eastern Finland) and Russia (the Karelian Isthmus). This synthesis expands the discussion of the changes observed in the Papers to include Fennoscandian housepit research as a whole. Certain changes in the size, shape, environmental location, and clustering of housepits extended into various cultures and ecological zones in northern Fennoscandia. Previously, the evolution of housepits has been interpreted to have been caused by the adaptation of Neolithic societies to prevailing environmental circumstances or to re-organization following contacts with the agrarian Corded Ware/Battle Axe Cultures spreading to North. This dissertation argues for two waves of change in the pithouse building tradition. Both waves brought with them certain changes in the pithouses themselves and in the practices of locating the dwellings in the environment/landscape. The changes in housepits do not go hand in hand with other changes in material culture, nor are the changes restricted to certain ecological environments. Based on current information, it appears that the changes relate primarily to the spread of new concepts of housing and possibly to new technology, as opposed to representing merely a local response to environmental factors. This development commenced already before the birth of the Corded Ware/Battle Axe Cultures. Therefore, the changes are argued to have resulted from the spreading of new ideas through the same networks that actively distributed commodities, exotic goods, and raw materials over vast areas between the southern Baltic Sea, the north-west Russian forest zone, and Fennoscandia.
  • Kouki, Paula (Helsingin yliopisto, 2012)
    This aim of this study is to examine the changes in settlement and land use in the hinterland of the ancient city of Petra, southern Jordan, in the light of archaeological, environmental and ancient textual sources, between ca. 300 BC early 7th century AD. Central questions are how changing social and economic situations and environmental conditions influenced rural settlement patterns and land use. The initial establishment of rural settlement in the Petra region took place during the last two centuries BC, followed by a considerable expansion of settlement and agriculture in the 1st 2nd centuries AD. The emergence of permanent settlement and agriculture is seen as the result of the gradual transformation of Nabataean society through the wealth generated by trade and contacts with sedentary peoples. The intensification of agriculture is generally contemporary with the urban expansion of Petra in the last decades BC early decades AD, and can be linked to the peak of the economic and political influence of the Nabataeans in the Near East. The rural settlement in the hinterland of Petra began to contract by the 3rd century, with continued decrease of settlements and relocation of population within the region through the 4th century. The settlement pattern that emerged in the 5th century was that of nucleated agricultural villages and towns. At the same time new farming settlements were established in the eastern desert margin of the region, while the western periphery of Wadi Araba was gradually emptied of settlement. The 6th century witnessed a continued agricultural expansion towards the eastern desert margin, but most of these new settlements were already abandoned in the 7th century. It is concluded that the climatic change did not have a significant role in the relocation of settlement, since the expansion of farming settlements towards the environmentally marginal areas took place during a period of increased aridity. It is suggested instead that there are two phenomena partially overlapping in time: first, a concentration of landed properties, starting in the 2nd century, and second, a change to a more mobile strategy of land use in the 3rd century. The latter is considered to be related to the decrease of urban population and wealth in Petra as a result of the empire-wide economic and political disturbances, and the subsequent changes in the international trade routes as well as the political reorganization of the Eastern provinces. These changes resulted in the reorientation of the economy of Petra towards agricultural production and localisation, as well as the emergence of a landowning elite in Petra and its neighbouring towns, reflected also in the distribution of rural settlement from the 5th century onwards. The process is comparable to that in other parts of the Byzantine Empire.